Medical school apologises to applicant rejected in 1959 because he was Black

Marion Hood, now a qualified gynaecologist and obstetrician, says he has often faced discrimination

Louise Hall
Saturday 19 June 2021 18:57
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<p>Emory University told Mr Hood in 1959 that the university ‘was not authorised to consider admissions’ from a member of his race</p>

Emory University told Mr Hood in 1959 that the university ‘was not authorised to consider admissions’ from a member of his race

A top university in Georgia has extended an official apology to a man whose application was rejected in 1959 solely because he was Black.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Marion Hood applied to study medicine at Emory University 62 years ago but was swiftly rebuffed due to the colour of his skin.

The Admission director LL Clegg reportedly told Mr Hood that the university “was not authorised to consider admissions” from a member of his race, returning his $5.00 application fee.

Now, decades later as part of its Juneteenth commemorations, the university has sent an official apology to Mr Hood for the discriminatory treatment he faced.

Emory University president Gregory L Fenves admitted in a programme that Mr Hood was rejected for “no other reason that [sic] the fact that he was Black,” The Journal-Constitution reported.

He added that the incident “vividly shows the systematic injustice of that time and the legacy that Emory is still reckoning with”.

“Throughout American history and Emory history, Dr Hood and so many other talented students were denied access to achieve their dreams to realise their potential,” Mr Fenves said.

Mr Hood, now 83, went on to graduate studies before attending medical school at Loyola University in Chicago, later becoming a gynaecologist and obstetrician.

The retiree established his own practice during his respected career and delivered more than 7,000 babies.

He told the newspaper that the discrimination had been an “everyday part of life” for him in both his studies and his time practising medicine.

“Everything worked its way out. There was no reason to dwell on it. I did not expect to get into Emory,” he said.

On Wednesday, the dean of the institution’s medical school, Vikas P Sukhatme, sent Mr Hood a letter apologising for the rejection.

“On behalf of Emory University School of Medicine, I apologise for the letter you received in 1959 in which you were denied consideration for admission, due to your race,” Mr Sukhatme said.

“We are deeply sorry this happened and regret that it took Emory more than 60 years to offer you our sincere apologies.”

The university ended its policy of racial segregation three years after Mr Hood’s rejection after winning a challenge of state laws that prevented integrated schools from claiming tax-exempt status.

In 1963, the university admitted its first Black medical student, Hamilton E Holmes and as of 2021 about 16 per cent of Emory’s medical students are Black, the newspaper said.

The Independent has contacted Emory University for further comment.

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